There is something in the world of Corporate Law called a No Compete Agreement. My understanding is it’s when someone sells or leaves a company and signs a promise not to start another similar company in direct competition. Once working together, then finding themselves in competition. It’s understandable something like that would be needed in business, I suppose. But not here. Not here.
It was my fourth year at the Cardinal Newman High School Service Fair, and I’m just now realizing how right they’re getting it in the area of service. Looking around at all of the various local organizations, ours being global, I was thinking how amazing it was to have one another, and how sad it would be if we were the only organization present. If we were the only optional area for these kids to serve. Because believe it or not, not everybody is passionate about India. No, really. It’s true. But deep down everybody is passionate about something, but not everybody is passionate about India.
But that doesn’t mean what they’re passionate about is wrong.
Yes, I’m passionate about India. I’m particularly concerned with hurting people no matter where they are, but right now, seem to be centered on the rural poor in India. God placed this in me for a purpose. His purpose. He placed a passion in you for His purpose too, and each one of these kids I was looking at on Monday. I was thinking how blessed we are in Sonoma County to have such a wide variety of local organizations, because if we didn’t, and LoveManifest were the only one sitting here as the single choice for these kids, what we would have is a very large group of seemingly passionless teens, and I wouldn’t know what to do with them. I suppose I could make something up, but it would actually be more of a hinderance… this large group of mismatched kids with nothing to do. And it might derail us as well as we struggled to create an area for them to get excited about that was outside of our God given mission. Take NAMI for instance. NAMI is amazing at what they do with those challenged in the area of mental health! They have a singleness of purpose, and they excel at it. Chances are, if you, or someone close to you has been affected by the insidiousness of mental illness, then NAMI is for you.
I watched with anticipation and hope for the kids interested in Free to Be. An organization targeting a very specific area previously overlooked in Sonoma County. Those interested would be investing in each other. Very cool. I, for one, am grateful for Free to Be, although I wouldn’t even have a clue how to do what they do so well.
Or Crossing the Jordan Foundation, who provided an ample supply of service hours in the area of babysitting, and even housing renovation, for the ultimate goal of restored lives of women and children. Perfect!
So I looked around and I saw opportunities for kids to grow and discover who they are, and why they’re here. I saw possibilities for a changing world as teens met mentors who are going in a direction they’re excited about. An area they both find purpose.
One young man came to our table and casually looked us over, then told us he had chosen Bicycles for Humanity. I was SO excited!! They’re an incredible organization collecting and distributing bikes to people in Africa. I’ve seen a lot of kids get excited about this organization. The founders are very low profile and kind, and quietly accomplish what they were called to do. This is the ultimate in “attraction rather than promotion”. Often the only thing you see from them is a rapidly filling crate in a high school parking lot.
I look over to see the Sonoma County Animal Control amongst this large group of people geared organizations, and I remember when I was a kid that’s exactly where my heart centered. Animals. Then slowly focusing on foster children, and later on, lepers, widows, and whole villages were added… but I cannot go through the streets of India (or anywhere) and not feel distressed by the starving cattle, and limping dogs. Mistreat one of these creatures in my presence, and you will see a side of me you haven’t seen before. See, people did not replace animals on my list of passions…they increased it. The spark ignited not with an organization, but with our first stray dog and rescued turtle. So I see the significance in including the Animal Shelter as an option along with all the rest of us. Each one so important, but none better than the other. I also see why they brought a cat along as their representative. 🙂
I had to “put up or shut up” recently and ask my own 12 year old twins if they would like to pursue a passion outside the scope of LoveManifest. I wasn’t offering to add whatever it might be to LoveManifest, but would encourage them to find someone to lead them in their area of passion. I didn’t have to do that yet, but there may come a time.
I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if my friend at Wells for Life hadn’t invested in me, tirelessly answering my questions, and said “YES, PLEASE DO!” when I asked if he would mind if we provided water in India too. I’ll never forget that phone call, his enthusiastic go ahead, and the example he set for me. I was always trying to inject my great ideas and opinions onto his path, yet he stayed true to his singleness of purpose. Clean water. In bore well fashion. In India. Until God tells him differently.
We can’t be all things to all people, and that’s why we have each other. God impassioned us with different things for a reason. Not one of them wrong or better than the next. And yes, we are consecrated and set apart for His use. For His Kingdom, not ours.
It would be easy to pursue our passion over His Kingdom, wouldn’t it? To make it an idol?
But if we all encouraged one another to put feet to purpose, even if it’s not what we perceive to be as important as ours; or stood back and cheered as another fulfilled theirs; even if it means they joined with someone else, then maybe, just maybe, we would see an increase in real change. Because the truth is… His Kingdom? That’s our purpose.
Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind.
– 1 Thessalonians 5:11 MSG